Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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BUF at ARI *GB at HOU *NE at SEA *DEN at SD (MON)
*CIN at CLE *IND at NYJ *NYG at SF Bye:
*Updated DAL at BAL *KC at TB OAK at ATL CAR, CHI, JAC, NO

Prediction: PIT 31, TEN 13 (Line: PIT by 5.5)

Players to Watch: Kendall Wright, Rashard Mendenhall

The 2-2 Steelers head to Tennessee looking for their first road win and the 1-4 Titans have only their freak win over the Lions to keep them from the cellar where they belong. The Steelers won 38-17 when the Titans were the visitors last season. This is the Thursday night game and that should keep the Steelers motivated.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Homefield: Heinz Field
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @DEN 19-31 10 KC -----
2 NYJ 27-10 11 BAL -----
3 @OAK 31-34 12 @CLE -----
4 BYE ----- 13 @BAL -----
5 PHI 16-14 14 SD -----
6 @TEN ----- 15 @DAL -----
7 @CIN ----- 16 CIN -----
8 WAS ----- 17 CLE -----
9 @NYG ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
PIT @ TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 280,3
RB Ben Tate
WR Antonio Brown 7-90
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 2-30
TE Heath Miller 4-50,2
PK Shaun Suisham 1 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The Steelers barely nipped the Eagles last week and Ben Roethlisberger fell from his normal high yardage and multiple passing scores to only 207 yards and no touchdowns. But his last road game resulted in 384 yards and four touchdowns against the Raiders in Oakland. The return of Rashard Mendenhall provided a spark top the rushing effort but nothing so big as to detract from what this passing offense intends to do each week. If anything, adding any success running the ball will only help the passing effort since defenses have had no reason to concern themselves with the run when they play the Steelers.

Mendenhall is one of the several running backs returning from a torn ACL who apparently have healed completely and without any signs of lingering problems. In his first action since last year, Mendenhall ran for 81 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and even added two catches for 20 yards. And that came against a normally good Philly rush defense. Playing at home is a bit of a help but overall the results were very encouraging for an offense that has seen nearly no rushing success from Jonathan Dwyer or Isaac Redman who have combined for just one touchdown over the first three games. This will remain a committee backfield of sorts and a reality is that Mendenhall is not likely to get a heavy rushing load in this pass-first offense. But he is new to the 2012 fantasy starters and so far has been rather impressive.

Heath Miller scored in each of the first three games including twice in Oakland but finally posted a low-key effort when he only turned in four catches for 41 yards versus the Eagles. He still remains the leading scorer for the Steelers and a favorite for Roethlisberger.

Mike Wallace had a problem holding onto the ball and dropped three passes last week including one potential long-gainer. He ended with just two receptions for 17 yards after having scored in each of the first three weeks and posted 123 yards on the Raiders. Antonio Brown has been far more consistent and has remained between 74 and 87 yards every week with just one touchdown that came, of course, against the Raiders. Last week he was pitted against Nnamdi Asomugha and still turned in seven receptions for 86 yards.

No reason to overanalyze here. The Titans have never allowed less than 30 points to any opponent and yet just one was able to score more than 14 points. That means the Steelers get a nice stats day so long as they remain motivated.

Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 11 18 9 8 13 27
Preventing Fantasy Points TEN 26 26 18 32 31 27

QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT CIN 0000033020 ***
Big Ben took these Bengals for 350 and 3 at their house just three weeks ago; with the AFC North title on the line, no reason to think he can't put up something just as fantasy friendly here.
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT CIN 11016500000 ****
Bell blew up the Bengals to the tune of 235 combo yards and three TDs just three weeks ago. While his bountiful yardage-fest has ended he still accounted for 191 yards from scrimmage and three TDs over the past two games. CJ Anderson just took Cincy for 138 combo and a touch last week; feels like baseline numbers for Bell here.
WR Antonio Brown, PIT CIN 0081201000 ****
Brown has scored or topped 95 yards in four of his last five meetings with the Bengals, including 9-117 earlier this season. Cincy's secondary is a tough nut to crack but they have given up three 100-yard games the past three weeks, and Brown is too frequently targeted to not amass helpful fantasy numbers.
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT CIN 004601000 ****
Over the past three weeks WR1s Antonio Brown and Demaryius Thomas have both topped 100 yards against Cincy but failed to score; meanwhile, running mates Bryant and Emmanuel Sanders have combined for three TDs. It was a bonus that Bryant also reached triple digits with his 4-109-1 showing in the earlier meeting; while he's the third option in Pittsburgh he's more than earned a spot at the fantasy table.
WR Markus Wheaton, PIT CIN 003400000 ***
The Steelers are firmly a two-receiver offense, leaving Wheaton with his nose pressed up against the glass looking in.
TE Heath Miller, PIT CIN 004500000 ***
Miller made the most of his one catch and one yard in the earlier meeting with Cincy, scoring the only TE TD the Bengals have given up in the past nine games. He's too inconsistently targeted to warrant regular fantasy consideration, and the matchup suggests last time was a fluke so look elsewhere for TE help this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT CIN 3333 ***
Suisham is finishing strong, with at least eight points in each of his last five games--a stretch that includes 10 points in Cincinnati--and multiple field goals in six straight. He might just deliver a Sunday night game worth waiting for.

Tennessee Titans
Homefield: LP Field
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 NE 13-34 10 @MIA -----
2 @SD 10-38 11 BYE -----
3 DET 44-41 12 @JAC -----
4 @HOU 14-38 13 HOU -----
5 @MIN 7-30 14 @IND -----
6 PIT ----- 15 NYJ -----
7 @BUF ----- 16 @GB -----
8 IND ----- 17 JAC -----
9 CHI ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Shonn Greene 60
RB Dexter McCluster
WR Derek Hagan 2-30
WR Nate Washington 5-50
WR Kendall Wright 7-60
PK Ryan Succop 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: It just keeps getting worse for the Titans. Last week without Jake Locker, the Titans hit a season low with only seven points scored despite allowing 30 points or more in every game. The schedule has been no friend and is not again this week but it gets slightly better in the second half of the season. The switch to Matt Hasselbeck had little results when he only passed for 200 yards and one score in Minnesota. After five weeks, this offense only has a total of seven touchdowns and a few of those came in trash time of decided games.

Chris Johnson somehow rang up 141 yards on 25 runs in Houston where they clearly did not care when he would run a draw in the second half when the Titans were being pummeled and needed to throw. Last week Johnson was back to normal when he only gained 25 yards on 15 runs.

Javon Ringer is out for up to six weeks with a torn MCL so there is no one else to turn to even if they wanted. Even with his one big game, Johnson only has 3.0 yards per carry. Take that away it is dives to 1.4 yards per run. There is just no reason to assume he is going to have a good game in any given week. Much less against the Steelers.

Jared Cook scored in two of the last three weeks which is big on a team with so little success passing. Cook ends with three or four catches per week with moderate yardage at best. He still remains below the fantasy radar.

Kenny Britt returned last week to post two receptions for 23 yards but his ankle is still not completely healed. He is expected to play in this game though he may be on a snap count with limited work. Nate Washington had early success and scored in the first two home games but has been shut down in every road venue. He'll need to step again at home this week for the Titans to remain in the game for any length of time. Kendall Wright comes off a career high nine catches for 66 yards in Minnesota and the rookie has been getting over eight passes per game since week two, He has already become the primary wideout for the Titans though the title so far brings only two touchdowns so far and even less respect. Wright has been a bright spot on a dull team.

The offense has been sluggish at best and needs for the opponent to stop caring and allow trash time and yardage. That is not likely to happen on Thursday night football against the Steelers. There is nothing on this team that suggests a trap game is in the making and the Steelers are just 2-2 so need every win.

Gaining Fantasy Points TEN 19 31 17 4 27 21
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 13 7 12 23 5 9

QB Charlie Whitehurst, TEN IND 0000020011 ***
Whitehurst saw plenty of action in the earlier game with Indy, throwing for 177 yards and a touchdown. That's actually a pretty typical game for him; no reason to set your expectations differently.
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN IND 5011100000 **
Sankey scored in the earlier meeting with Indy, and at this juncture there's really no reason to give anyone else carries; the Titans need to find out what their second-round pick is capable of going forward. With greater volume comes greater responsibility--like, he'll need to turn 14 carries into more than 44 yards, like he did against Jacksonville last week, if he wants to become the feature back in Tennessee.
WR Nate Washington, TEN IND 004500000 ***
Washington had his moment in the sun with 6-102 against a bad Jets' secondary; now he's just taking up roster space.
WR Kendall Wright, TEN IND 004500000 ***
Wright is playing through a hand injury; despite that he led all Titans receivers with 4-73 last week against Jacksonville and is the best bet to post something similar against an Indy team he took for 5-55 (also team-leading) in the earlier meeting.
TE Delanie Walker, TEN IND 005601000 ***
Walker scored against Indy in the earlier meeting--hardly surprising, seeing as the Colts have given up 10 TE TDs on the year. They've also allowed six games of 80 yards or more, including Walker's 84 earlier in the year. Given how heavily targeted Walker is, and how bad the rest of Tennessee's receiving corps is, a similar stat line feels like a starting point for Walker this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Ryan Succop, TEN IND 1122 ***
The Colts have allowed one multiple-field goal outing in the past 10 games. No reason to think the Titans suddenly find one between the couch cushions this week.

BUF at ARI *GB at HOU *NE at SEA *DEN at SD (MON)
*CIN at CLE *IND at NYJ *NYG at SF Bye:
*Updated DAL at BAL *KC at TB OAK at ATL CAR, CHI, JAC, NO

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